Depression and suicide among young people: Difficult topic, but here is some information that parents, kids might want to know

Sorry. Suicide, especially among young people, is not a pleasant thing topic to contemplate, much less read about. But the topic has been on my mind lately, and not just ‘cause I’m Crazy Soccer Mom with this perhaps politically-incorrect-titled Crazyinsuburbia blog.
It’s been in my mind, because I volunteer on the parent education committee for my son’s school district. Recently, I’ve been in contact with crisis counselors at different schools, and talked to parents whose kids have battled depression, anxiety, undiagnosed, and untreated mental illnesses.

One of those crisis counselors at one of our suburban high schools said she recently helped get two students hospitalized for thinking and even planning how to take their own lives. Another parent, with whom I recently exchanged e-mails, lost her outwardly happy, academically successful middle-school daughter to suicide.

This mother has begun to speak out in public about what happened to her family. She admits she wasn’t aware of the degree to which some kids are hurting inside. She told me she was also amazed at the degree to which parents in our success-oriented, high-achieving suburbs don’t realize that some of our kids–from elementary- to colllege-aged–are depressed, stressed out, and so unhappy that they question whether life is worth living.

“We live in Denials-ville,” another mother recently told me.

Here are some basic facts about suicide from the National Institutes of Mental Health and the nonprofit website,

–Approximately 750,000 people attempt suicide in the United States each year.
–More people die of suicide than homicide. 
–Suicide is the third leading cause of death of those aged 15 to 24. 
–Kids under the age of 10 commit suicide; it’s the fifth leading cause of death among 5- to 14-year-olds. 
–Untreated depression is the No. 1 cause of suicide. 
–About 75 percent of those who die by suicide exhibit some warning signs (AKA “red flags”).

Warning signs: Appearing depressed or sad most of the time … Withdrawing from family and friends … Talking about feeling hopeless and helpless … Strong feelings of anger or rage … Strong mood swings … Abusing alcohol or drugs … Showing a change in personality, loss of interest in most activities, change in eating habits … Acting impulsively or recklessly …
And, feeling excessive guilt or shame, giving away prized possessions, writing a will, talking or writing about death or suicide.

If you are in a crisis and need help right away:
Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: (800) 273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

What NIMH says you should do if you think someone you know is suicidal: If you think someone is suicidal, do not leave him or her alone. Try to get the person to seek immediate help from his or her doctor or the nearest hospital emergency room, or call 911. Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications.

2 thoughts on “Depression and suicide among young people: Difficult topic, but here is some information that parents, kids might want to know

  1. Suicide is a serious problem among young people. You may be surprised to learn that it is the third leading cause of death for 15- to 19-year-olds in the United States. Only accidents and homicide are more common causes of death for this age group. A far greater number of youths attempt suicide each year. Suicide attempts are not easy to count because many may not be treated in a hospital or may not be recorded as self-inflicted injuries. Survey data from 2005 show that 17 percent of high school students had seriously thought about suicide, 13 percent had made plans to attempt suicide, and more than 8 percent had made a suicide attempt during the year before the survey.
    Suicidal behavior is different among young women than among young men. Young women attempt suicide three times more often than young men. However, four times more young men than young women actually die from suicide3. This may be because females and males tend to use different methods when attempting suicide. Young women often attempt suicide by overdosing on drugs or cutting themselves-methods which offer more opportunities for rescue. Young men often use firearms, hanging, or jumping from heights-methods which usually cause instant death and offer no chance to intervene.Suicide among young white men accounts for most suicide deaths, but the suicide rate among young black men is rising. Suicide rates for American Indians aged 15 to 19 are high (19 percent of deaths) compared to overall rates for this age group (less than 13 percent of deaths).


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